My wood burning experiment this winter - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-29-2008, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
velochic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Dreaming of the Bavarian Alps
Posts: 8,198
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I was so proud about how much money we've been saving on our heating bill this winter by burning wood in our wood-burning stove and keeping the gas heat off. Literally our heating bills cut in half. Last year $230 for Jan., this year $107. I've finally tallied it all up, including the cost of purchasing wood, and it really comes out to being close to even. Plus with wood, I have to haul it up to the house every few days, work to keep the fire going, etc.

I was really disappointed. I thought it would be a huge savings for the effort. I guess the only way to really save is to cut it yourself (not going to happen for us - no renewal source of wood).

It was also nice that the fellow we bought wood from has a 90 acre tree farm, is registered with the DNR and cuts only already fallen trees and trees that are part of a 100% replacement plan.

Does anyone else heat with wood, and if you do, do you cut it yourself or buy? If you buy, do you feel you save money?

ETA: The going rate for a "rick" or 4' X 8' rack of 18" to 24" -long pieces is about $70 on average. We were easily burning through 2 ricks a month.
velochic is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-29-2008, 10:25 AM
 
EarthyMamaofDaisy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: in the woods of NH
Posts: 590
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We heat with wood pellets but I'm pretty sure we're saving money. Everywhere else I've lived we've always had heat included so I'm used to cranking the heat. Last year was our first year with a pellet stove and I used to keep the heat at 70. We burned threw several tons of pellets. We had fuel assistance but still spent a lot of money. This year we've used a little over a ton and a half. We just picked up another half ton this past weekend. So 2 tons purchased, plus 6 bags also purchased when there wasn't enough money for a ton. We can get a ton of hard wood pellets for $250. So I'm thinking it will be a little over $500 for the winter. Not sure if that's good or bad! I keep the heat between 66-68 during the day and 64-66 at night. One the really cold nights it goes down lower because the stove works harder and out bedroom is upstairs so the heat rises and it doesn't matter if the rest of the house is warm. The stove is tied to our thermostat which is nice because we don't waste heat like with a wood stove when it gets so hot at times.

treehugger.gif mama to flower.gif and stillheart.gif and baby.gif

femalesling.GIF  bfinfant.gif  familybed1.gif

EarthyMamaofDaisy is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 10:42 AM
 
GooeyRN's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 6,951
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We supplement our oil heat with wood. We only use wood when it is going to be in the teens. Otherwise we use oil only. We didn't buy wood yet. A friend of ours also uses wood. He has a friend with land. We let him use our pick up truck to get wood so he gives us a pick up truck full. DH also works with the mayor of the next town over. He lets us know when a tree comes down in a storm and needs to be removed, or if any land was cleared and the trees need to be removed. DH goes and does the work and gets to keep the tree's. Unfortunately, we didn't get any calls in about a year so our wood is running out. Wood is expensive to buy and it really wouldn't save us money. It is trouble to keep the fire going while having a baby and a toddler, and its messy/dusty, but I LOVE to have a fire going. Its so toasty in the family room!
GooeyRN is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 10:58 AM
 
monkey's mom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,922
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We have heated exclusively with wood this year! I'm thrilled!!

Last winter was our first in this house and we spent several thousand on heating oil. It was *shocking!* And we froze.

This year we have created a "wood co-op" of sorts with a neighbor and a friend. The friend has heavy equipment and access to huge amounts of fallen wood, the neighbor has a splitter and the covered platform, and we have the labor (everyone helps with the labor we just try to pitch in more....). So three families have heated their homes with "free" wood this winter, and we've got a ton seasoning for next winter. The only expense has been the cost of gas for the splitter and chain saws--next to nothing.

We've really enjoyed going out on nice days and stacking, cutting, and splitting wood. The kids help and/or play, and we all get some fresh air and exercise. And community. I'm loving it!

Even if we had bought the 4-5 cords of wood we've burned this year (at $140 a cord), it would still be cheaper than the oil we would need to burn to (inefficiently) heat this house.
monkey's mom is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 11:08 AM
 
lightheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: zone 6b
Posts: 2,366
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
we cut our own wood on our land so the expense for us is minor, chainsaw expenses, tractor and truck expenses to haul it up to the house. The work is hard though and the mess is messy. (we use downed trees that have blown over and sometimes the wood isn't the most efficient to burn because of the type)

I know that one day because of age and ability we will have to pay to have it cut/hauled whether it's our own trees or from someplace else but hopefully will continue to use wood for as long as possible because it is renewable.
lightheart is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 12:35 PM
 
CandyApple's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,100
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightheart View Post
we cut our own wood on our land so the expense for us is minor, chainsaw expenses, tractor and truck expenses to haul it up to the house. The work is hard though and the mess is messy. (we use downed trees that have blown over and sometimes the wood isn't the most efficient to burn because of the type)

I know that one day because of age and ability we will have to pay to have it cut/hauled whether it's our own trees or from someplace else but hopefully will continue to use wood for as long as possible because it is renewable.
This is us exactly. Very little expense, tons of work!

We bought one load of logs this fall for the first time, we were curious if the expense would out justify the work. A huge trailer rolled off 8 foot logs about 8" in diameter and dh sawed them up and we stacked them. The load cost us about $250 and looks like it will cover about 1/3 of the winter. Not horrible, but we'll probably keep cutting our own til we can't physically handle it anymore.
CandyApple is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 01:47 PM
 
KariM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: at the sewing machine (in zone 5A)
Posts: 3,326
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I don't heat with wood but grew up in a house that was heated by wood! My parents converted to exclusive wood heat in the late '70s and had an oil furnace as emergency back-up, but it had to be manually turned on due to chimney sharing.

Anyway...my Dad did cut a lot of his own (downed trees, etc.) on our property. But the bulk of his wood came from our Great Uncles who were loggers. Dad would buy a semi load of logs from them and then he'd cut and split the wood himself - much cheaper than buying cord wood!

If you and/or your DH are at all interested in cutting wood, you can save quite a bit by buying logs rather than cut and split firewood.
KariM is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 02:01 PM
 
CathMac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
I was so proud about how much money we've been saving on our heating bill this winter by burning wood in our wood-burning stove and keeping the gas heat off. ... I've finally tallied it all up, including the cost of purchasing wood, and it really comes out to being close to even. ... I was really disappointed. I thought it would be a huge savings for the effort. I guess the only way to really save is to cut it yourself (not going to happen for us - no renewal source of wood).

It was also nice that the fellow we bought wood from has a 90 acre tree farm, is registered with the DNR and cuts only already fallen trees and trees that are part of a 100% replacement plan.
...
ETA: The going rate for a "rick" or 4' X 8' rack of 18" to 24" -long pieces is about $70 on average. We were easily burning through 2 ricks a month.
Velochic,
I'd feel good about the fact that wood heat is more carbon neutral.

I'm surprised you didn't save more. Where I live wood is generally sold by the cord which is measures approximately twice as large as a "rick". A cord is 4x4x8 or 128 sf as opposed to 4x4x2 (I rounded up from 1.5 to simplify the math) or 64 sf. A cord costs approximately $250.00 in the greater Boston area. I would love to be able to find wood for what it seems to cost you; then I'd be paying about $140.00 a cord.

I'm wondering if you are getting "shorted". Do you pick up or is it delivered? Do you actually stack it to make sure it is the volume you paid for? If so, how tightly is it packed?

Do you know what species the wood is or whether it is hard wood versus soft wood? Hard wood has more btus since it is heavier.

Also, how well seasoned is it. For the price you are paying I strongly suspect it was cut recently. Generally wood should be dried for at least 6 months or so and the moisture content should be 20% or less. If the moisture content is high you lose a lot of heat burning the moisture off and some of that heat goes up the pipe in the form of steam. You might want to invest in a moisture meter. If you have the room to store the wood you should ask the Seller if there is an off season price and you could buy it now and store it over the Spring/Summer to season.

How old is your stove? If it predates the early 80s there is a good chance it is a non EPA approved stove. Generally EPA stoves are more efficient which means you burn less wood for the same amount of heat. Although there are some older stoves that are surprisingly efficient if they are run properly (e.g.: with well seasoned wood).

Does it have a catalytic converter? If so, do you have any idea how old it is and when it was last cleaned or replaced? Catalytic converters are one way of getting a stove to burn particles that would otherwise go up the pipe. So it burns cleaner and you get more heat value out of it. If the cat is damaged then you are losing heat that way. Cats aren't necessarily cheap, although generic ones are available which lowers the price, but you will save money in the long run if you replace a damaged Cat.

There are other maintenance and repair issues that can improve performance.

If you are interested in learning more about stoves, stove set ups, the best way to "run" them, etc. below is a link to a good resource. It's a forum like this one where you can post all the details about your stove, where it's set up, how it's vented, etc. and get feedback on how to improve performance. A picture can be invaluable too.

You can also get safety tips and learn about how to stack wood and cover it so it can dry properly. And there are some other forums with energy saving tips in general.

Hearthtalk: Woodburning Hearth Forum
http://www.hearthtalk.com/viewforum....ea2e2aa6df9f70

One more thought, you can supplement the cost of your wood by checking Craig's list. Occasionally you'll find free wood listed. I have seen a couple of listings myself but haven't gotten lucky yet. Another source is wood pallets (not pellets, but pallets used for stacking on). The key is to make sure they are untreated, especially if you have a catalytic stove since the chemicals used to treat wood will damage the Cat. (For that matter, while it may be ok to burn plain paper or cardboard in a Cat stove you don't want any colored or coated paper.

Pallets tend to be dry so they can work well with unseasoned wood. They require some effort since you need to break the pallets down and you may want to remove the nails or sift the ash after if you plan on using the ash in your yard or garden so that involves some work.

Anyways, I wouldn't give up just yet until you have a better idea of what kind of stove you have and whether some simple maintenance or tips on how to run it better might improve performance.

ETA - Where do you live? Two ricks (approximately one cord) isn't much for the month of January even if you are only supplementing your heat by about half.

Good luck, ~Cath
CathMac is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 02:03 PM
 
Daffodil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 3,578
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Using our wood stove definitely saves us money - it would be ridiculously expensive to heat the place with our electric radiant heat. We buy some wood, and cut some of our own (mostly downed trees on our property.)
Daffodil is online now  
Old 02-29-2008, 02:17 PM
 
jaceycat24's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 383
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
have you guys checked out freecycle in your area? you can post a wanted ad. for wood and you just drive to pick it up. i see it all the time where i am located but i don't have a wood stove. i am thinking about getting one though just for the free wood i see posted after storms.
jaceycat24 is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 02:30 PM
 
CathMac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaceycat24 View Post
have you guys checked out freecycle in your area? you can post a wanted ad. for wood and you just drive to pick it up. i see it all the time where i am located but i don't have a wood stove. i am thinking about getting one though just for the free wood i see posted after storms.
You should now that most free wood isn't cut and split, but occasionally you will get lucky.
~Cath
CathMac is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 05:55 PM
 
Daffodil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 3,578
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
We've gotten wood through Freecycle a couple of times - cut to stove length, but not split. Once just white pine, and once a mixture of pine, poplar, and maple. Around here, free wood is mostly pine, which most people around here won't use in their wood stoves. We do, though, mixed in with hardwood. Out west where we used to live, plenty of people burn nothing but softwood all winter, so it doesn't seem as unthinkable to us as it does to most Vermonters.
Daffodil is online now  
Old 02-29-2008, 06:37 PM
 
Stone Fence's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 1,300
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Around here (upstate NY) wood is up to $200/cord delivered. In a well insulated house it's probably about even with oil. We supplement when it gets in the teens and below. Our wood stove is really there for back-up.

We should be harvesting our own wood, we have acres of it, except it's not hardwoods.

Amy at Stone Fence Farm
:
Stone Fence is offline  
Old 02-29-2008, 08:58 PM
 
lmonter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: My own private Idaho
Posts: 6,359
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My hubby goes wood cutting. It's his hobby (mine's gardening, we're so weird), so it's not exactly dirt cheap... He has a few Husqvarna chainsaws, we bought an old pickup for hauling a few years ago (which has more than paid for itself between wood hauling and dump runs), and he just goes and gets a forest service permit for $5/cord to cut down felled/dead trees on local forest service land. So technically we're doing the state a favor. Plus hubby gets to go out with some of his friends without kids or wife each time, and it's good exercise for him. Without the cost of the gym.

When we have good, dry wood, we use about 3/4-1 cord (a 4'x4'x8' stack of wood) of wood a month. A full cord when it's 0-20*F out for a few weeks and we have both wood stoves going. Damp wood doesn't burn as well, we learned that during our first haphazard wood-burning season.

Hubby is planning on cutting a few extra cords of wood this summer to let season a little and then sell in the winter to make a little extra money (hee, to pay for materials for a deck). Around here, a cord of wood is anywhere from $150-$250/cord, depending on the type of wood and the quality of it.

Anyway, yeah, we do save money. Because with our wood stoves? The temp in the living room's usually 73*F-84*F, a few degrees cooler up in the bedrooms. Can you imagine what the electric or gas bill would be to keep your house at 79* all winter? Yikes. Plus we can leave the patio door open when my 4yo's out in the backyard playing in the snow (so we can hear screams if need be) and not worry about killing the heat in the house. When the temp creeps up to 87*F we start opening the kitchen window or patio door to cool off a bit...

Wife to an amazing hubby, mother hen to four chicken3.gif 
(If you're curious, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, and yes, it's a busy house)
lmonter is offline  
Old 03-01-2008, 12:16 PM
 
Usually Curious's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,925
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 23 Post(s)
Did you factor in the rise in cost of heating oil? Most likely, you're bill would have doubled over last year.
Usually Curious is online now  
Old 03-01-2008, 02:06 PM
 
CathMac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,689
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Usually Curious View Post
Did you factor in the rise in cost of heating oil? Most likely, you're bill would have doubled over last year.
Usually Curious,
Good point. She should look at how much fuel she actually used this year compared to last year; and try to factor in whether this January was warmer or colder.

Also, I wonder if some people unconsciously set the thermostat a little higher because they feel like they can afford to when they are burning wood.
~Cath
CathMac is offline  
Old 03-01-2008, 02:59 PM
 
ustasmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
Posts: 2,955
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We bought wood last year. I think that it was $320 for 2 cords of wood, but we heard after the fact that we bought from the "expensive" guy.

This year, we had a few trees taken down so we rented a log splitter for like $50 and that is what we are using. We needed the trees down anyway, since they were too close to the house in the case of a serious windstorm.

We use propane when it is slightly cold, but when it is really cold, we only use our wood furnace.

I think that I've spent about $200 in propane so far this winter.

We don't use our wood furnace every day as it gets the house so warm that we usually have enough heat that remains to keep us comfortable for the next day, too.
ustasmom is offline  
Old 03-01-2008, 03:50 PM
 
babycarrier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: watching them grow
Posts: 2,193
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I've been thinking about the savings factor of the wood v. oil the past few weeks. We have gone through a good amount of wood - about 8 cords and only about 200 gallons of oil. We have huge drafty farmhouse that is not heat efficient.

We use wood from about 6 in the morning til 8 at night and set the oil to 60 so when the fire burns down, the heat kicks in.

Pluses to wood are the house stays high 60s all day - no way would I keep the oil at that at today's prices. And about this time of year I am so sick of the cold, I'm not turning down any extra.

I think an important difference is the price of oil vs. last heating season - ours is about .80 to 1.00 more a gallon and that adds up quickly.

We buy by the cord and it is $175 a cord. About 5 cords of that dh harvested and split from downed oak and maple in our field. Huge time commitment and the cost of a new Husqvarna chainsaw, but an amazing amount of wood. For the first 2 1/2 months of heating season we only turned the oil on about 5 times and kept the fire going all night.

A huge help for us are fans. We don't have ceiling fans but we hang a box fan in front of the fire towards the living room and keep that on along with another at the bottom of a staircase for the upstairs. The house stays warm and the 2nd fan at the stairs makes a huge difference. Without these fans, we don't benefit much from the fire. Can't say enough how much they help for only about $20/ extra in the electric bill.

The wood is a lot of work, though. We do enjoy a lot of it, though some days the last thing I want to do is empty ashes and build a new fire.

All in all - I think the savings is huge.
babycarrier is offline  
Old 03-01-2008, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
velochic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Dreaming of the Bavarian Alps
Posts: 8,198
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks for all of the info. There is too much to reply to, but I do appreciate everyone's comments. Thanks.
velochic is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off